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Few people consciously take the time to prioritize their tasks. Therefore, they tinker with all sorts of things, feel busy, or even overloaded, without achieving great results.

If you do not prioritize yourself, the environment will prioritize for you and use you to do the things that scream “Here!” the loudest. And these are usually not the things that help you achieve your goals and feel good.

First of all, remember that being busy has nothing to do with being effective. On the contrary, it may very well be that six hours of thinking about what you really need to do, followed by two hours of work, is ten times more effective than your typical eight-hour day of busy-ness.

Start prioritizing your tasks from today and start right now.

Your task for today:

Create an overview of all the topics that are currently on your mind (e.g., developing a new job, household, children, filing, club, etc.) Now give each topic 0 to 3 points for their respective importance and urgency for you and your life and write them down for each topic (3 points = very important/urgent, 0 points = unimportant/non-urgent).

Now, draw a 2×2 matrix, as shown in Figure 101 in your notebook, and enter the topics in the appropriate place in the matrix:

Points of Urgency

Figure 11: 2×2 matrix to classify tasks by urgency and importance

The matrix now shows the prioritization for your tasks (see also Figure 112):

  1. Important and urgent: Do it yourself immediately and avoid such situations in the future as far as possible by paying more attention to and scheduling category II tasks.
  2. Important, but not urgent: Schedule these tasks in the calendar and complete them yourself. For a more relaxed and successful life, you should spend most of your time here.
  3. Urgent, but not important: Try to delegate these tasks to others as much as possible to relieve yourself. If they don’t do it well enough, no harm done.
  4. Neither urgent nor important: Do not deal with this task at all and ignore it in the future.
Upcoming Tasks

Figure 12: Decision matrix for upcoming tasks

Set yourself a tight timeframe for the prioritized tasks in which you concentrate only on these tasks.

Pack similar tasks together once a day (e.g., answering emails), once a week (e.g., processing mail and filing), or once a month (e.g., paying bills) to save time. Until then, collect all similar tasks in a fixed location (e.g., email folder, invoice compartment on the shelf) without processing them further.

What is the purpose of this exercise? You need to learn how to NOT do things and to endure it. Here the principle applies: Leave small things unfinished or even fail to successfully accomplish the big things that are important to you. You cannot and should not please everybody!